Sunday, December 14, 2014

India lose 1-2 to Australia, finish fourth

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

A close defeat can often make it a tad tough for a team to rebound when the next match is a bronze medal play-off tie. India faced a similar predicament when they locked horns with world champions Australia at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. The home side dished out a fighting performance, but had to settle for a 1-2 defeat, to finish fourth in the tournament – at the 2012 edition in Melbourne they had also finished fourth.

The world champions did not make it easy for the Indians, pressing hard from the outset. The Kookaburras unleashed a quick passing game and looked to pin India in their latter’s half. The Aussies held sway over the midfield even as India searched for answers to Australia’s fast breaks.

The Aussies after a goalless opening quarter pulled ahead in the second quarter when Jacob Whetton worked his way on the right and fed skipper Eddie Ockenden, who calmly breached the ‘determined defence’ of Sreejesh.

The Indian forwardline pressed the urgency button and exerted pressure on the Australian defence, but goals eluded them. The yellow-and-gold brigade forced a penalty corner in the closing stages of the second quarter, but Jeremy Hayward’s drag-flick resulted was well saved by Sreejesh but as the ball rose a follow-on short corner was awarded. Chris Ciriello took the set-piece indirectly, but Sreejesh stood tall as India trailed 0-1 at half-time.

India were kept at bay but they triggered excitement among the home crowd when Manpreet Singh engineered his team’s first penalty corner, which resulted into a follow-on short corner after Rupinder Pal Singh’s drag-flick was thwarted. The home crowd went into frenzy when Lalit Upadhyay tapped home amid a goalmouth melee after Ramandeep’s shot was blocked after Manpreet set it up. Frayed tempers marked the match with SV Sunil being embroiled in an ugly tussle with Tim Deavin – an incident which saw the Aussies first provoking the Indian.

Matt Ghodes gave Australia a 2-1 lead in the final quarter slamming home a rebound after Jacob Whetton set it up with a backhander. India created serious pressure but muffed up an opportunity to be on level terms in the final quarter when they won their third short corner, but Akashdeep Singh deflected wide off an indirect attempt. Akashdeep missed another sitter in the dying moments as India settled for a 1-2 defeat. 

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